Teaching Beginning Brass players

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by skuni, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. skuni

    skuni Piano User

    Jan 20, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    I have an idea for teaching my beginning brass class. I'd like to have them make an instrument out of a piece of tubing and a funnel. My question is what kind of tubing would work best, how long should it be, and how can I differentiate between trumpets and trombones?

    My plan is to spend the first week of school teaching air, buzzing, and rhythm then adding the horn in the second week. I see my students every day for 50 minutes.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
  3. skuni

    skuni Piano User

    Jan 20, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks!!! That site is hysterical!!
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    I think the buzzing is fine if you stay away from lip buzzing and stick to mouthpiece buzzing. Also, I'd approach it like a kazoo. That is, a toy with which you play melodies not long tones that may have little meaning for the young mind. Kids like music and if you make buzzing the mouthpiece a simple musical endeavor, I reckon you'll have more longterm success buliding musicians.

  5. ptynan

    ptynan Pianissimo User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Antigonish, NS

    So true. I teach at a beginning band camp in PEI most summers. And by the end of the week all the kids get a good beginning trumpet sound and are on the road to stable chops. I have seen these same kids the next summer and they seem to be stronger than most. I think it is because they love to buzz their mouthpiece.

  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    I know that it is not always the case, but for some students, lip buzzing can be very beneficial.
    I don't advocate it for everybody, but for a couple of my students it has been their breakthrough moment - their sound has opened up and their playing has taken flight.
    One particular student (age 10) was having serious tone issues - his previous teacher had told him about mouthpiece buzzing but he only used it sparingly. If we now start each lesson (and practice session) with a warm-up along the following lines he is able to achieve not only a great tone but his range is also more secure.
    Lip buzzing - no specific note, just a steady tone.
    Mouthpiece buzzing - aiming for a (second line) G, with steady tone. Once the G is fairly "happy", slide down to a C - keeping the fullest sound that is possible.
    Sirens from as low as possible to as high as is comfortable - all the time concentrating on the sound being produced.
    Leadpipe playing - whatever pitch comes out, once again, aiming for the sound.
    Trumpet playing - starting with a C (below the stave) and then descending - keeping the tone as full as possible (of course), then gradually ascending through a series of exercises based around scales and lip flexibility exercises.

    I am very lucky in the fact that this particular student has a superb musical ear (he is a chorister at the local cathedral) and is also willing to put in the work to make the improvements - his face when he first did this routine was a true picture - he went from total disbelief that any of the parts would be beneficial through to a huge smile when he heard the tone he was producing after a few minutes - even his Mother has noticed a huge difference (and she describes herself as one of the least musical people on the planet).

    Returning to the original enquiry - a couple of years ago I took part in an experiment where we started a class of brass players with just the mouthpiece (through no forward planning - we just didn't have the instruments until the third week of the course) and worked on rhythms in much the way you are describing.
    The result was that we had a class of very frustrated young brass players - they just wanted to get their hands on some instruments.
    Once the instruments arrived, their rhythmic ability was already developing nicely, but what they really wanted to do now was to make some SERIOUS noise - the teaching of the class became as much about crowd control as anything else.
    The following year we already had the instruments so we were able to start the class with the instruments. We start each week with a few minutes of mouthpiece buzzing games (actually based around drinking games, but we don't tell the students this - they are only young :lol: ) then move onto the instruments. From lesson 1 they have been more controlled in their attitude towards playing - we have yet to experience the "volume contest" that the previous class treated us to.
    Whether this is because they are a different class (with a different attitude) or whether this is because they have had access to the instruments from the start is something that I cannot be sure of. I do know that should we do the classes again next year, I want to start with the instruments available from the beginning.

    The favourite "game" from both years (whether on the instrument or the mouthpiece) and with a few of the younger groups I work with, has been the following:
    All students sit in a circle.
    Choose a direction (we normally start with clockwise).
    Everyone buzzes/plays a note in order.
    Then introduce the concept of reversing the pattern - indicated by buzzing/playing two notes.
    If someone buzzes out of turn, they are out (depending how long we have for this game we sometimes start everyone with three "lives").
    Then indicate a jump (you skip a participant) by playing/buzzing three notes.

    It is always a good idea to join in these games yourself - not only does it mean that the students realise that it doesn't matter how good you are, you still do the same stuff, but it also gives them a good target :lol: - you will suddenly become the focus of all their attempts to get you "out."

    With my beginner brass ensemble (entry requirement - "do you know which end to blow in?") we have had a game that was very heavily contested and lasted over an hour!!

    (the drinking version of this involves putting hands on a table and tapping once, twice or thrice - penalty is a drink - it can be made more complicated by interweaving your hands with the people you are sitting with)
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Georg Liebetanz at the Stuttgart Musikschule "builds" such instruments with prospective hornists and uses plastic champagne corks as mouthpieces: just cut the bottom off the middle part and stick it in the hose. He has a huge horn class, so he might be able to write off some of his champagne expenses from his taxes.
  8. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    didn't Rafeal Mendez when he started out play the nothing but the mouthpiece for an extended periods of time (months or years don't remember for sure and too lazy to get up to get the book)

    if I thought I could get away with it I would have the students buzz the mouthpiece only for 10-15 minutes a day using nursery rhyme songs and simple folk songs that the learned in general music class for the first week then add the horn. Part of that is to avoid information overload, we can just focus on sound production breathing and blowing the first week, then the second week after they have worked the mouthpiece, adding the trumpet we can the concentrate on holding the horn correctly.

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